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Hoboken's One-Two Punch: Solving Density, Stormwater Dilemmas

By Steve Dwyer

The city of Hoboken, N.J. is saddled with an open space and expansion dilemma in what's historically a built-up urban footprint marked by acute density. City planners and private sponsors, however, are eternally seeking to flip that script and capitalize on various opportunities.

To compound matters, the city of Hoboken is plagued by a dubious storm water management system that leads to significant environmental issues and flooding. An ambitious redevelopment initiative is helping write a new and compelling narrative for a city that's located in the shadow of New York City.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

The project is Hoboken's Northwest Resiliency Park, which is based on a blueprint where the endgame is to combine open space and recreation with green infrastructure punctuated by storm water retention.

Located in Hudson County along the western bank of the Hudson River, the city of Hoboken's shining project is comprised of three parcels that encompass six acres. The properties are currently undergoing focused Remedial Action activities by BASF, the former property owner.

The city of Hoboken purchased the property in December 2016 with the intent to redevelop the parcels into open space/recreation use with a stormwater retention component to limit local flooding issues. In order to fund the acquisition and development of the property, the city secured financing through New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) H2lOans Program.

Prior to BASF, Cognis Corp. (formerly Henkel Corp.) manufactured products such as detergents, polymers and personal care products from approximately the mid-1970s to May 31, 2003. The remedial action for soil included the excavation and off-site disposal of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-impacted soil and the placement of an asphalt pavement cap to serve as an engineering control across the entire property along with a Deed Notice.

Following the completion of the remedial action, the property was deemed safe for the community's use by a Excel Environmental Resources, Inc. North Brunswick, New Jersey, which is a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP). Groundwater impacts continue to persist and are currently being addressed by BASF; however, redevelopment activities have been initiated by the City to bring this property back to viable use.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

The long-term planning process for the permanent redevelopment as a "resiliency park" is scheduled to begin in spring 2017 and take approximately two to three years to complete. The Hoboken Northwest Resiliency Park project will directly address current flooding issues in the northwestern area of Hoboken by introducing green stormwater infrastructure and subsurface detention to reduce stormwater runoff.

The subsurface system is designed as a one-story concrete chamber providing one million gallons of storm water capacity that will be fed back into the stormwater system for discharge to the Hudson River after a storm event. The surface will include green infrastructure to augment water quality and flood mitigation. The facility will be lined with water quality planter boxes, infiltration trenches and sidewalks/walkways comprised of porous pavement.

This plan is being augmented by another ambitious vision involving a creative approach to interim use.

While the long-term planning continues, the short-term planning process is underway to create a temporary four-acre "pop-up" park so that the community can start enjoying the benefits of this additional green space by this summer. The goal of the pop-up park is to provide a fun and safe recreational area for the enjoyment of the Hoboken community for the next two to three years while the long-term planning proceeds. Contracting to construct the pop-up park is underway and is scheduled to open to the public by July 2017.

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